Technically, Memorial Day is reserved for remembering those who have served in America's military and made the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow countrymen.
However, I will break with tradition and instead remember two extraordinary men who served their country with distinction and survived their experiences; My father, Francis Feeney and my brother, Michael. My Dad joined the Navy during World War II and served aboard the USS Hornet as a Torpedoman's Mate. My brother joined the Navy because, well...because he was in trouble a lot and, at the time, it beat going to jail. Mike served in Vietnam, then got posted in Guam and later Scotland among other places.
Neither my Dad or my brother much talked about their times in the military. My father wasn't one to dwell on the past because there was a lot he wanted to forget. He grew up during the Great Depression, with an abusive father who literally drank himself to death. He got married young and it was a disaster. They fought constantly and raised three kids in a miserable household. When the marriage finally ended, his two daughters sided with their mom, while Mike stuck by his father.
My brother was in Military Intelligence for most of his career, so he didn't talk about his time because, well, if he did he'd have to kill me. I always appreciated his discretion in that area...
I was never pressured by my Dad to enlist, and for that I was always grateful. I don't know if it was because he was concerned for my well-being or if he realized that, as a soldier, I'd be worse than Pauly Shore in IN THE ARMY NOW.
It's been almost twenty years since my Dad passed away and only a few months since Mike left us. I miss them both terribly. every day I remember them for the great men they were and what they both meant to me.
Today, I remember them for what they meant to my country.